Mark Perrow reports from Molineux
Two goals in three minutes subjected City to a painful defeat in the Black Country.
Strike duo Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Kevin Doyle were on target in quick succession inside the last 14 minutes after a howler from keeper Carl Ikeme gifted City a first-half lead.
The hosts had struggled furiously to test Tom Heaton until the last quarter of a contest low on quality but not lacking commitment from either relegation rival.
Sean O’Driscoll made two changes to his side victorious against Middlesbrough last time out, as Cole Skuse and Paul Anderson returned to starting duties at the expense of Neil Kilkenny, who dropped to the bench, and Jon Stead – facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a groin injury.
It was City who would enjoy the first sight of goal inside eight minutes, as lone striker Steven Davies beat the offside trap to latch on to Liam Fontaine’s long ball in behind the Wolves defence, but was unable to work the ball on to his preferred left foot and dragged his shot wide on his less favoured right.
The visitors’ bright start was tainted by an injury to Anderson soon after when the winger was on the receiving end of a robust lunging tackle from Liverpool loanee Jack Robinson – hard but fair it must be said, but leaving the former Nottingham Forest man unable to continue.
After a three-minute break while Anderson received extensive treatment, Albert Adomah
was called for from the bench for the second time in successive weeks to replace an injured team-mate in the early stages.
Aside from Davies’ early chance, the first half was starved of goalmouth activity until City were gifted an opener in the most bizarre circumstances on 25 minutes.
There seemed no danger when Ikeme’s routine goal kick was taken relatively short to David Davis, facing his own keeper 25 yards from goal. But the midfielder, under pressure from Cole Skuse, was clearly a reluctant recipient, and opted to go back to base.
However, Davis’ back-pass was well overhit and on target, putting the long-serving Molineux stopper under unnecessary pressure. He duly buckled, allowing the ball to escape his control and dribble over the line in scarcely believable fashion.
Wolves needed to wake from their nightmare, and threatened to do so when David Edwards saw his shot on the turn diverted away for a corner by Marvin Elliiott.
Things were going from bad to worse for Dean Saunders’ side, who lost key man Bakary Sako to an unprovoked hamstring injury when the winger pulled up in full flight right in front of his luckless manager.
But 1-0 is a precarious lead, and Wolves were determined to redress the balance in a first half sure to extend long beyond 45 minutes.
When Ebanks-Blake reached the byeline, the forward cut the ball back and saw it fall kindly for Doyle, only for his strike partner’s shot to be blocked heroically by the sprawling Liam Fontaine before bouncing back off the Irishman and behind for a goal kick just for good measure.
The gold shirts were swarming forward, and only a last-ditch intervention from Lewin Nyatanga prevented Ebanks-Blake from pulling away one on one with Tom Heaton – still unworked in the City goal.
Meanwhile, Heaton’s opposite number would not return to the field for the second half, as Ikeme’s day to forget was cut short at the interval, presumably by injury, leaving Saunders with no replacements left at his disposal.
Wolves’ pressure was fairly constant but hardly threatening, and Davies stung the palms of substitute keeper Dorus De Vries in a rare City foray.
But at the other end, Heaton was called into action for the very first time after a full 65 minutes – and even then Bjorn Sigurdarson’s low shot was never going to cause problems.
The Icelandic international would be presented with a better chance moments later when fellow substitute Stephen Hunt’s cross from the left fell his way, but composure was severely lacking when the youngster skied his effort into the imposing new stand behind Heaton’s goal.
Wolves were still struggling to create clear opportunities, but City were indebted to Fontaine again when the defender headed the ball to safety from virtually under his own crossbar from Matt Doherty’s cross before the hosts finally levelled 14 minutes from time.
Hunt’s delivery from the right was taken down with his back to goal by Ebanks-Blake, but the predatory striker swivelled and buried a left-footed shot high into the net past the helpless Heaton.
It would prove just the tonic for a demanding home crowd suddenly right behind their team, and three minutes later Doyle struck to send Molineux into a frenzy, heading home another Hunt cross, this time from the left, to turn the game on its head.
O’Driscoll responded by bringing on Sam Baldock to support Davies, but Wolves had their tails up and Sigurdarson tested Heaton at his near post to force a corner.
The closest City came to a dramatic equaliser arrived when Albert Adomah
’s low ball somehow eluded everyone inside the six-yard box, but Wolves survived to condemn O’Driscoll’s men to another fortnight afoot the npower Championship table.